There is only one convenient, hassle-free way to get a bicycle from one place to another: riding it. Aside from that, any bike transportation method will come with added costs or effort. Transporting it by car means having to take the time to attach it properly, and even then, you’re running the risk of damaging it on the way.
Whether you’re selling off your old bike, want to get it delivered to your vacation destination, or are trying to send it to a friend who lives all the way on the other side of the country, chances are that you’re going to use a shipping service to get the vehicle delivered.
If you’ve never done it before, you must have plenty of questions related to shipping bicycles. What’s the best way to go about it? How long will it take to arrive? And perhaps most importantly, how much does it cost to ship a bike? Keep reading, as we’ll answer all of those questions, and more, in this article.
The Best Bike Shipping Methods
There are a few viable options for shipping a bicycle, each with its own set of pros and cons. Ultimately, the final decision depends on your own unique situation and the reason why you’re sending the bike off in the first place.
You can get your bike delivered using three reliable methods: shipping companies, dedicated bike shipping services, and finally, by checking it in as luggage with an airline. In this section, we’ll go over all three of these, helping you decide which one will work best for you.
This is likely the very first option that popped into your mind when you started thinking about shipping your bike. After all, companies such as DHL, FedEx, and UPS have made a name for themselves as some of the most reliable, dependable delivery businesses in the world for a reason: in most cases, they get the job done on time.
However, when it comes to shipping a prized piece of sporting equipment, such as a bicycle, enlisting these companies’ services might not be as much of a no-brainer. Yes, FedEx or DHL will get your items delivered to their destination, but you’re going to be the one who’s responsible for packing them correctly and making sure that they’re ready to be transported.
It’s easy enough when you’re shipping things like books or clothes – just pop them in a box and close it up with some duct tape. But when it comes to sending off a bicycle, this approach simply won’t do.
For starters, you’re going to need a dedicated bike box that suits the size of your vehicle. Then, you’ll have to pad it so that your bicycle stays well-protected throughout the trip. Finally, you’ll most likely need to pay an extra fee for that “Handle With Care” sticker to make sure that your prized possessions don’t get thrown around when loading and unloading the courier’s truck.
All that takes a fair bit of effort and may also incur some additional costs. Does that mean that you shouldn’t even consider these well-known shipping companies? No. In some scenarios, using UPS or a similar carrier to deliver your bicycle is the best way to go. Here are two examples:
- You need the bike delivered on the very next day. At an additional cost, these companies will expedite the shipping process.
- You’re sending multiple bikes to different locations. If you need to quickly deliver a few bikes to people living in various cities or countries, then a carrier like DHL or UPS is probably the best option for you. They can cut you a deal based on the volume of your order and usually cover more areas than services that are specifically dedicated to shipping bikes.
Dedicated Bike Shipping Services
As opposed to delivery companies that handle the shipping of all objects, regardless of their type, size, and intended use, dedicated bike shipping services such as BikeFlights or MyBaggage primarily deliver specific and odd-sized items. Thus, they know how to handle your bike so that it gets delivered to its final destination safely.
BikeFlights is definitely one of the best ways to get your bike shipped the right way. On top of expertly handling these vehicles, they also offer plenty of extra services. For example, if you’re traveling for a bike race, they can get it delivered straight to the race’s location. They also offer live chat support with individuals who are knowledgeable about bikes and can help you out even with some of the more specific, niche-related queries.
Companies like MyBaggage or BikeFlights will also take you through every step of the process, including packing up your bike. Once you specify the dimensions of your bicycle, you’ll receive a special bike box (padding included), along with detailed instructions on how to pack it up safely.
One thing that’s important to note about these services is that they work with “traditional” shipping companies to fulfill their orders. However, they often have long-standing relationships with carriers, meaning that you may count on lower-than-usual shipping rates.
Now, you’ll still have to pay for all the extra conveniences like box delivery and better customer service, so you might not end up saving much money than when shipping with DHL or UPS directly. Nonetheless, you can still count on a better service at the same or similar price, so if you’re not in a hurry, it’s probably best to choose a dedicated bike carrier and save yourself some stress.
Checking Your Bike as Airline Luggage
If you’re traveling with a bicycle, you might also want to consider simply checking it in with your airline as odd-sized luggage. Pricing may differ depending on the airline’s policies, and you’ll once again be responsible for the packaging of your vehicle. However, it’s really one of the best options if you’re taking a recreational trip and want to take your bike along.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a hard-shell bike container to safely store your bike in for the duration of your flight. Your bicycle will go into the plane’s luggage compartment, along with dozens of other suitcases and heavy items. A regular, cardboard bike box won’t do here – if you pack it like that, you can be almost certain that your vehicle will get damaged during the flight.
Once your bicycle is properly packed and checked in, you can rest easy, knowing that you can just pick it up from the luggage belt upon arrival. Of course, when transporting your bike via an airline, you need to be wary of all the risks: luggage delays or your luggage going missing. If you own a really expensive, competitive bike, you might want to think twice before you check it into a plane.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Bike Abroad?
International shipping is always more expensive than domestic deliveries. This is no different in the case of bicycles. On average, sending a bicycle to another country via a traditional carrier or a bicycle shipping service costs around $100 to $600.
The price range is so wide because there are a lot of factors that play a role in determining it:
- Your bike’s dimensions
- Its weight
- Shipping method
- Import fees (e.g., taxes or duties)
Let’s say you have a bike that’s worth $5,000, and you want to send it from New York City to Madrid, Spain. For the purpose of this example, we’ll assume that it fits into a medium-sized box (45x12x30 inches) and that it weighs 50 pounds.
The shipping costs alone will run you anywhere from $330 to $350. You’ll also have to pay duties and taxes that in the case of Spain will amount to another $99.
Finally, there’s the insurance price. Note that this isn’t mandatory, but we’ll factor it in, anyway, as we strongly recommend insuring any internationally transported bicycle, especially one that costs $5,000. Given its value, insuring the package will cost you between $75 and $80.
Let’s sum it up:
- Shipping: $330-350
- Duties and taxes: $99
- Insurance: $75-80
- Total: $504-$529
Of course, this is just one example of an expensive intercontinental shipment. If you’re sending your bike much closer, e.g., to Canada or Mexico, you can count on a much lower rate. Make sure to always check the additional costs, such as duties and taxes, as well as insurance prices, to have a much better idea of the true price of your shipment.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Bike Domestically?
Sending a bicycle to someone inside of the US will cost you a lot less than an international package. Roughly, the costs fall anywhere between $40 and $350, including insurance costs. Once again, all the same factors that we listed above are important in the case of domestic shipments, with distance being the decisive one in terms of determining the final price.
If you’re trying to deliver a bike to another town inside of the same state, you’re not going to end up spending a fortune. You might even be as lucky as to keep the price under $100! Shipping between states will get much costlier, and if you’re sending a bike from one coast to the other, you might have to shell out well over $300.
To illustrate the domestic shipping costs inside of the US, we’ll take a look at one of the most extreme examples: sending a bike from Washington, DC, all the way to Las Vegas, NV. Just like in our international shipping example, the bike is worth $5,000, weighs 50 pounds, and fits into a medium size bike box.
A shipment like this will cost you around $180-$190. To that, you will have to add the insurance price of $70-80. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay any taxes or additional fees related to state-to-state shipping, making your shipment significantly cheaper.
Here’s a rough price summary:
- Shipping: $180-190
- Insurance: $70-80
- Total: $250-270
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the shipping costs for bicycle transport are hard to estimate because they are dependent on a wide range of factors. If you own a model that’s used by professional cyclists or triathletes and costs upwards of $10,000, then the insurance costs alone will amount to quite a pretty penny. On the other hand, if you have a recreational bicycle you want to use while vacationing abroad, you can easily transport it by checking it in as luggage for your flight.
In both cases, one thing that you definitely don’t want to overlook is insurance. It may seem like an unnecessary expenditure, but a lot can happen during the shipping and delivery process. Don’t leave anything up to chance – protect your possessions with an appropriate insurance option.